This condition affects eight of ten women at some time in their lives. For most it is an isolated event but for the unlucky few, cystitis keeps coming back and life becomes an endless round of antibiotics, which can often result in thrush, candida albicans, digestive problems and the need for further medication.
Some cystitis symptoms include
- wanting to empty your bladder frequently but producing little urine
- burning or stinging when you pass urine
- low abdominal pain or backache
- sometimes bloodstained urine
An infection is the most common cause but for about 50 per cent, urine analysis can show no sign of bacteria. The triggers are wide ranging and can include sex, alcohol, tea and coffee, too much sugar in the diet, heat and cold, wearing tight clothing, prolapse, chemicals in soap, bubble baths, the chemicals in a swimming pool or spermicides.
Some women experience minor cystitis just before a period.
Treatment for cystitis
The orthodox treatment is the use of antibiotics and sometimes a preparation to rebalance the pH level of the urine called Potassium Citrate. Cystitis sufferers are advised to drink plenty of fluids.
Very occasionally some women may be given a "urethral stretch" which seems to alleviate the symptoms. But about one in ten women who experience repeated attacks resist antibiotic treatment, and for them doctors have coined the term "urethral syndrome".
There are a number of things that can be done to help prevent a full-blown cystitis attack if you are prone to the condition. Many alternative therapies are successful at treating this condition.
- To prevent an attack eat a good whole food diet, eliminating ready meals and processed foods containing unnatural additives & preservatives.
- Drink three to four pints of liquid a day, but not too much tea and coffee. Herbal teas and mineral waters are much better.
- Avoid putting off emptying your bladder if the urge is there to pass water. Urinate regularly and don't use vaginal deodorants, bubble baths, talc or perfumed soap.
- Particular attention should be paid to hygiene and washing the genital area must be done after passing urine or opening the bowels - make sure to wipe your bottom from front to back to prevent germs from the anus entering your urinary tract.
In the event of a cystitis attack
If a cystitis attack develops there are some general guidelines to follow:
- increase your fluid intake and drink half a pint of water every 20 minutes for about three hours
- Steer clear of coffee, tea, alcohol and anything spicy
- Stay warm, place a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel against your back or on your pelvic area
- Drink barley water - it can help to soothe inflammation. Leeks is also recommended as they are alkaline and can act as a diuretic and antiseptic
- Drinking cranberry juice can also help as it is thought that the components in the juice interfere with the bacteria's ability to adhere to the lining of the bladder. However, some women find it can be too acidic.
If you do have to take antibiotics for the cystitis attack, make sure you get plenty of vitamin C since antibiotics rob your body of this vitamin. Eat plenty of live yoghurt to rebalance the system and take acidophilus probiotic tablets to offset the antibiotic side effects such as dysbiosis which can cause bloating, flatulence etc.